Jack Grealish has started just 11 games for Aston Villa. I’ll repeat that – just 11 games. Yet the press have gone bonkers over the question of his international future for the past year when his answer was going to be pretty obvious from the get go.
When you’re born in a country with a major national team (I think we can still class England as that), that’s normally your number one choice. You only normally start looking down the family tree for other potential international team outlets, if you don’t deem yourself good enough for your mother country.
Granted Grealish played for Ireland at various youth levels due to his strong family links to the Ireland and perhaps Ireland’s eager scouts, but when it came to full international status, if he backed his own ability he would always going to pick the international team of his birthplace, especially when it’s common knowledge that England is desperate for talented players. The fact the press have taken an over zealous interest in a player who is barely into double figures in starts for his club is testament to that.
The question most Aston Villa fans are asking is how will choosing England impact his Aston Villa career?
Well, the first question is how good actually is Jack Grealish? You can believe as much hype as you want, but the proof is always in the pudding, and as far as MOMS is concerned that pudding is still slowly being cooked.
Of course, Grealish hasn’t asked for all the hype and the pressure it brings, so we must be pragmatic with any assessment.
It’s ‘so far, so good’, when you consider his contribution to Villa’s FA Cup journey last season and key league games to beat relegation. It wasn’t quite a breakout season, but promising nonetheless.
I think most fans thought it was the start of the Grealish revolution in earnest when he scored his first goal in the Leicester City game this season, but the Foxes swiftly burst that bubble and contributed to the fact that Villa have lost in Grealish’s last six Villa league starts.
At the moment Grealish is no match-winning wonder boy, like the youthful Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney’s were when they were even younger than the Villa winger. In fact, Grealish is in danger of having his winning mentality at youth level sucked out of him, if Villa continue to under-perform as a team – Villa have lost 7 of Grealish’s 11 league starts for the club.
If Grealish does evolve into a top player it will be his allegiance to his more specific birthplace of Solihull that will be tested the most. How long will he stick around at Villa?
Villa players before him who have got into the England set-up, have very quickly had their head turned to the possibility of earning much more at the top four or five clubs. The likes of Gareth Barry, Ashley Young and Fabian Delph, didn’t remain long at Villa once they broke into the England ranks and started hanging out with their peers playing at clubs in the Champions League.
There’s no doubt being an England international potentially increases your value more so than being an Irish international simply due to the hype and status, but a lot will depend on how early the England manager would blood him.
Now, you’d imagine Grealish will have a few good seasons with Villa first before going anywhere, but an England call-up is nowhere near as dangerous to losing him than the prospect of relegation this season.
If Grealish is to progress as a player, a big part of that would be him being instrumental in transforming Villa into a team that can compete properly in the Premier League again. He’s old enough now at 20 to start making such an impact.
We strongly hope that Grealish can become the legitimate match-winner that Villa need, then the press can perhaps feel justified in their continuous obsession with him.
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